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Wonderful food in places off Chowhound radar? Lynwood, for example.

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Let's first set the parameters of this game.

1. Looking for true Chowhound gems in areas rarely discussed by most Chowhounds on the LA board.

(For the purposes of this game, let's disqualify the whole of Chinese San Gabriel Valley. Also any areas which are widely or moderately discussed such as central LA, Culver City or Santa Monica would be disqualified, but also less-discussed areas like Burbank or the West Valley, would be disqualified for purposes of this discussion. But Lynwood would be a great spot to identify a real find since it is rarely, if ever, discussed on the LA Chowhound board.)

2. In these off-the-Chowhound-radar locations, looking for restaurants largely unknown to Chowhounds.

(By this definition, although the city of Bell might be rarely discussed, La Casita Mexicana would not qualify since it has already been identified by the LA Chowhound community-at-large.)

3. Any restaurants identified or already reviewed by Jonathan Gold are immediately disqualified.

Alright fellow Chowhounds, I am eager to see what comes of this.

Mr Taster

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La Casita Mexicana
4030 Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201

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  1. I've enjoyed La Huasteca in the Plaza at 3150 E Imperial Hwy (310) 537-8800. Rocio, the chef who used to be at Moles La Tia cooks there now. I've been a few times -- would go more often if it was closer to me.

    ETA: I guess this should be disqualified because I see some chowhounders have discussed this in the past...?

    -----
    La Huasteca
    3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

    Moles La Tia
    4619 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90022

    8 Replies
    1. re: d_doubleyew

      I'd say that any restaurant with a branch in Pasadena should be disqualified :)

      However, I appreciate your bringing La Huasteca to my attention. I'm woefully uninformed about Mexican food.

      Mr Taster

      -----
      La Huasteca
      3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

      1. re: Mr Taster

        The La Huasteca in Pasadena is long gone.

        -----
        La Huasteca
        3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

        1. re: Mr Taster

          La Huasteca must have been reviewd by Gold, no?

          -----
          La Huasteca
          3150 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262

          1. re: sku

            Stunningly, no.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              And yet, he's reviewed Olive Garden.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                But not on purpose!

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  And that review made me laugh. It's just a shame they didn't make him carry that enormous culinary vibrator for an hour while he waited.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    The photos were a howl. The lovely shot of the spaghetti on the fork … that woman could make a bowl of Campbell's vegetable soup look fabulous.

        2. Not Lynwood, but in nearby Downy I really like Parilla's for Peruvian and Seafood & Taco's Raul for hole-in-the-wall Mexican.

          And in Huntington Park (not Hunginton Beach), I like La Flor De Izote Restaurant for Salvadoran.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Somehow, I knew you'd play.

            Thanks for these intriguing contributions.

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              There are so many places I'd like to explore in Huntington Park, but there's that damn language barrier.

              Now I know what the rest of the non-Chinese speaking world feels like in SGV ...

          2. Long Beach

            El Pollo Imperial (Peruvian specialties, not just chicken)
            Thai Corner (Thai chicken salad and papaya salad)
            Riveras Mexican
            Alsace Lorraine Fine Pastries (almond star danish)

            -----
            Thai Corner Restaurant
            2615 Carson St, Lakewood, CA 90712

            El Pollo Imperial
            5991 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90805

            2 Replies
            1. re: mlgb

              In Long Beach, I really like Ma N Pa for burgers.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                wow, never heard of this place. ma n pa

            2. Is Redondo Beach disqualified? If not, we really enjoyed the food at Hudson House, which is more of a bar, than restaurant. Kind of loud & gritty, but with thoughtful and delicious food.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Phurstluv

                While Redondo Beach might not be a bastion of Chowhoundliness, there's 13 pages worth of "Redondo" search results whereas Lynwood (for example) has just over 1 (this is using default search criteria). So I'd say that Redondo Beach wouldn't qualify.

                Moving forward, let's try to keep the results to unknown, excellent restaurants found in areas which have less than 2 pages worth of search results using default criteria.

                That should serve to hone the responses we get here to a rather sharp point.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  Moving forward, let's try to keep the results to unknown, excellent restaurants found in areas which have less than 2 pages worth of search results using default criteria.

                  _____________________

                  You actually expect people to, um, do their due diligence before plunging right in?

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Think of my rules as serving the same purpose as Jim Leff's old manifesto :)

                    Really, the ultimate goal of this exercise is to help lift communities that are under served by great Chowhound info, so that Chowhounds-at-large have additional reasons to branch out and explore the many enclaves that make up our great city.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      IMHO, "Chowhounds at large" have largely abandoned Chowhound, for the convenient search and mapping tools to be found at Yelp, which also has a wider and deeper geographic & demographic participation. The handful of active LA chowhounds may feel they know better, but they aren't out there in the hood.

                      We'll see if anyone else plays.

                      1. re: mlgb

                        "… Yelp, which also has a wider and deeper geographic & demographic participation." A wider and deeper representation of narrower and shallower correspondents, is what it comes down to. There are still those of us who wouldn't take a Yelper's word for it that ice cream is nice (without documented proof), but who will explore whatever nook or cranny of LA County we find ourselves in for signs of worthwhile culinary effort being expended. I've gotten word of a newish place in Agua Dulce that ought to be looked into …

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Chowhound.. BakeNBroil, BakeNBroil, BakeNBroil.

                          Without Yelp, explorations in Long Beach would be dull indeed.

                          There are some of us who will bravely subject our own tastebuds to a 4 or 5-star Yelp rated local restaurant without waitng for the chowhound self-annointed seal of approval.

                          I'm not even sure how these little undiscovered treasures manage to survive without the four or five of you who ever venture into the hood beyond the comforts of your exquisite pie and burger specials.

                          1. re: mlgb

                            "Without Yelp, explorations in Long Beach would be dull indeed." Explorations are never dull. Getting some poster's opinion before going anywhere is not "exploring" at all. Driving or walking somewhere and seeing an interesting place along the way, and checking it out, that's exploring. Or hanging out with a local, which is what we mostly do in Long Beach. Our friend there doesn't even know about BNB, but together we discovered a Tex-Mex place from the '40s, and that splendid dive the V-Room.

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              So which of the restaurants that I listed have you been to, or do you just rely on your one and only local friend?

                              If you've lived here for over 30 years as I have, you have been to all the tried and true places, including the two restaurants in LB ever mentioned on chowhound.

                              When something great and new opens, like El Pollo Imperial in north Long Beach, are you rejecting trying it just because Yelpers like it?

                              And what if your one friend doesn't ever go to North Long Beach? Which, if they've never heard of BnB, is my suspicion.

                              The V Room gets 4 stars on Yelp. Guess you better scratch that from your list. Oh first, what was the food item that you liked? And the name of the Tex Mex place? Woops.

                              -----
                              El Pollo Imperial
                              5991 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90805

                              1. re: mlgb

                                Now now mlgb, no need for that sort of tone. The whole purpose of this thread is to address the issue of LA Chowhound's self-imposed limitations, and work to break them.

                                I don't believe Mr Owen has ever said that a positive review on Yelp *automatically* presupposes a bad restaurant, which is what your straw man argument asserts.

                                Rather, he is stating that a high Yelp ranking is not a reliable source of accurate information, whereas restaurants that meet with a broad Chowhound consensus generally are excellent. *Generally*. It's not a matter of absolutes, it's a matter of knowing where one can find the most valuable nuggets most reliably.

                                That's always been the benefit of Chowhound since the beginning. As former Alphahound Jim Leff used to say, Chowhound provides a high signal to noise ratio. Yelp's signal:noise is substantially (if not exponentially) lower, and that is what makes Chowhound so valuable.

                                Case in point:

                                Urasawa gets slightly more than 4 stars

                                http://www.yelp.com/biz/urasawa-bever...

                                While this Chipotle gets 4

                                http://www.yelp.com/biz/chipotle-mexi...
                                (And you get wonderful gems like "Out of all the other Chipotles that I've been do, this one would probably my favorite.")

                                Been do indeed.

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  Comparing reviews of Urasawa to Chipotle is apples to oranges.

                                  Yelp has it's good points & bad. CH has it's good points & bad.

                                  -----
                                  Urasawa Restaurant
                                  218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    Yes you are right reality check.

                                    I am still so anxiously awaiting another Chowhound recommendation for my neighborhood. Waiting. Waiting....along with the usual Chowhound comments about how unfortunately located it may be at "Crenshaw and Driveby". Oh wait, that was Eatalian in West Compton(on Yelp since February 2010 4 to 4.5).

                2. Mr Pollo in West Covina for Peruvian food and pollos a las brasas. Not quite the level of Pollo a la Brasa in KTown, but very good.

                  -----
                  Mr Pollo
                  500 N Azusa Ave, West Covina, CA 91791

                  1. My Contribution - Jolly Jug in El Monte for beef dip sandwiches

                    -----
                    Jolly Jug
                    4264 Peck Rd, El Monte, CA 91732

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: RoxyGrl

                      Fine move! A splendid place that changed hands and got even better - how often does that happen?

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        But El Monte is in San Gabriel Valley, which per Mr Taster is disqualified ...

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I said Chinese San Gabriel Valley...

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            There have been a few topics about good pizza in SGV. But other types of non Asian foods; burgers, other Italian, steaks etc have not been covered on CH.

                            1. re: reality check

                              True. Babita, Bollini's, Petrillo's and Claro's are the non-Asian spots that are discussed with relative frequency here, and as such would be disqualified.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                Looking at a map, I think the areas/cities that are within these boundaries are never covered on CH;

                                Northern boundary: 105 freeway
                                Southern boundary: 405 freeway
                                Eastern boundary: 605 freeway
                                Western boundry: roughly the 110 freeway.

                        2. re: Will Owen

                          I know, right? A couple of 20-something friends of mine stumbled in there for the first time for breakfast recently and are now in love with the place - largely due to the amazing welcome they got from the owner and staff but also because of the good home-style food.

                          That makes me happy, especially since I recall going there with my parents and grandparents waaaay back in the 70's.

                      2. The Bottle Room in Whittier. Great burger (both the turkey burger and the regular burger), and my partner had a fantastic peas/egg/bacon dish there last week. The place can get a little over-run w/ a rambunctious young adult crowd (it's bar/gastropub and near the college) and music last Friday was turned up way too loud, but they know how to prepare food. They have what looks to me to be a very decent selection of beer (I enjoyed a sip of my partner's Maui beer), but I know little about beer....

                        -----
                        The Bottle Room
                        6741 Greenleaf Ave, Whittier, CA 90601

                        1. Sergio's Tacos in Commerce.

                          -----
                          Sergio's Tacos
                          2216 S Atlantic Blvd, Commerce, CA 90040

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sku

                            2nd this. Amazing al pastor and cabeza tacos. Fast service and a total bargain.

                          2. Tacos La Bufadora (on Arrow Hwy & Irwindale) for their delicious fish tacos and El Matador (on Irwindale between the 210 & Arrow Hwy) for their Chilaquilles.

                            -----
                            El Matador Restaurant
                            5312 Irwindale Ave Ste 1D, Baldwin Park, CA 91706

                            1. Great suggestions, everybody. Thanks for playing!

                              Mr Taster

                              1. 36 posts and nobody's mentioned any place in the entire San Fernando Valley? Come to think of it, does anything in the SF Valley (except perhaps on/around Ventura Blvd) ever get mentioned on Chowhound?

                                [crickets]

                                24 Replies
                                1. re: Bradbury

                                  As a rule, the Noho/Thai Gulch area around Sherman Way/Vanowen at Coldwater gets love, but you're right. Much of the non-trendy San Fernando Valley west of and north Noho is largely ignored. Fab's Hot Dogs is the rare exception (as was the now defunct Gorikee) and Vallarta supermarket is sometimes discussed. Noah posted some great ideas from the SFV, including that Uzbeki grocer/deli called Tashkent, though technically that's also Noho.

                                  So, those rarely discussed parts of San Fernando Valley would certainly be fair game per the rules I've established.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    I don't know, there's a fair amount of popular chow places in Studio City/Tujunga: Carney's, Lotteria, Mantee, Gelato Bar, Boneyard Bistro, Caioti, or maybe you are including those in Sherman Way.

                                    Other than those areas, you may be right. Along with Fab's, there's Brent's in Northridge which gets much love. I like the Israeli place Itzik Hagadol in Encino, though I don't know if Encino qualifies. Also Mercado Bueno Aires in Van Nuys is a lot of fun.

                                    -----
                                    Boneyard Bistro
                                    13539 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

                                    Mantee
                                    10962 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                                    1. re: sku

                                      As Bradbury outlined, the Ventura corridor to Sherman Oaks as Bradbury outlined is pretty well represented. No way Loteria qualifies-- it's well discussed here. And yes, Brent's of course would be a Chowhound favorite, as would be Mandarin Deli. But these are just a small handful of places out of the huge geographic swath of the SFV that remains largely untouched by Chowhound.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        True, you can remove the Ventura Blvd corridor and NoHo from the "undercovered" list here. But for adjacent replacements, you can probably swap in the Santa Clarita Valley, and most of the Crescenta Valley northwest of Montrose.

                                        (Speaking of which, in recent years I've noticed an increasing number of Korean restaurants in the La Crescenta area ... has anyone tried one worth recommending?)

                                        1. re: Bradbury

                                          Ka-San has excellent (and lethally spicy) seafood soup.

                                    2. re: Mr Taster

                                      If you search Reseda, there are plenty of hits (more than you laid out in the rules as being acceptable for this topic). But it is usually for the same handful of places like Melody's, Fab Hot Dogs before the move, and Las Fuentes. If we can include Reseda, I have a few places I would like to add.

                                      -----
                                      Las Fuentes
                                      18415 Vanowen St, Los Angeles, CA 91335

                                      1. re: Jelly71

                                        Interesting point-- I think Reseda definitely qualifies as undeveloped Chowhound territory. I'd love to hear your suggestions.

                                        Mr Taster

                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                          vinh loi tofu in reseda has been mentioned several times and i'm using this thread as an opportunity to shamelessly plug it again

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            The corner of Tampa Ave and Roscoe Blvd is home to 2 of my favorite restaurants. One is Tampa Garden Chinese Delight. It as been well documented in this thread, so I won't rehash too much. But I have never had anything there that was not top notch, delicious. The handmade cat ear noodles with chicken is amazing. The mother makes the cat ear noodles right there and I don't know how they get their chicken so tender and flavorful and I don't care. I just want seconds, please.

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/741602

                                            Las Calaveras is the second restaurant on that corner. Fresh, handmade tortillas. That's what got me there and it doesn't disappoint. This is not a cheese covered, glop kind of Mexican restaurant. Their beans are cooked with chorizo and lightly mashed. The rice has some veg mixed in, which is exactly how my great grandmother (she is from Chihuahua) always made it.

                                            One of my fave dishes there is the fried corn quesadilla. Handmade corn tortillas stuffed with just the right amount of cheese (not a lot, just enough, this is not a cheese bomb) and then lightly fried, never greasy, so the flavor of the corn tortilla really shines. My only complaint is I don't love their salsas.

                                            Oh, and they make their guacamole fresh throughout the day and it shows. It is a family run business and in talking to them one day, they told us that they tell their cooks to cook like they are cooking for family. And it really does taste like a great, family meal.

                                            I started a thread a few days ago about a new pastry place in Reseda.

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/776481

                                            For subs, I am positively addicted to the subs at Antidote. It's a liquor store with a sandwich operation in the back. It's on White Oak and Vanowen. They bake the baguettes fresh all day in small batches. Now, I don't think they make the dough there, but the bread is still wonderfully crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. They use some nice quality meats, especially the ham. That ham haunts me and I have to have it once a week. It's like a slightly sweet black forest ham, but better than any I have ever had. It's not Boar's Head and the owner won't tell me where he gets it from. It's a bit of joke between us, he isn't being rude.

                                            They do not skimp on the meat here, either. Sometimes, it is almost too much meat for me, especially the Italian sub. But I am not the most carnivorous person, so that meat avalanche might appeal to most other people.

                                            I have to mention that they do put mustard and mayo on the subs, not olive oil as I know a lot of people get riled up about that. Also, this is not a sit down place. They have a few tables in back, but no one ever sits there. It's kind of dark and feels like a supply closet. I get mine to go, as most people do.

                                            -----
                                            Tampa Garden
                                            8241 Tampa Ave, Reseda, CA 91335

                                            Las Calaveras
                                            8341 Tampa Ave, Northridge, CA 91324

                                            1. re: Jelly71

                                              GREAT, precise descriptions. This is what I love about Chowhounds.

                                              Yes, Tampa Garden is well discussed here (for the sheer anomaly of being able to find mao er duo west of Monterey Park), but the others sound fantastic. And it's still 2 hours to lunchtime....

                                              Mr Taster

                                              -----
                                              Tampa Garden
                                              8241 Tampa Ave, Reseda, CA 91335

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                Ravanelli's Pizza on Reseda in Northridge. Tacos Ensenada in Duarte on Foothill.

                                                -----
                                                Ravanelli's Pizza
                                                8456 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324

                                                1. re: WildSwede

                                                  Hi WildSwede-- are those fish tacos I smell frying up in Duarte??

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                                    Tacos Ensenada is actually on Huntington, not Foothill (a bit west of Mt. Olive) It's Route 66, which becomes Foothill further east, so it's an easy mistake to make...

                                                    1. re: Bradbury

                                                      Yeah, sorry. My mistake.
                                                      May just be, Mr Taster! ;-)
                                                      I went last night for the first time. They had pretty jumping business. Not as good as the fish tacos at La Bufadora, but pretty good. What I loved best was their roasted chiles with the lemon juice/chile powder sprinkled on them. I even smuggled 3 home and could not suppress the urge to lick them!

                                                      1. re: WildSwede

                                                        Sabrosos in Reseda for their bean & cheese burritos. Rico's Mexican on Foothill (this one is really on Foothill) in Monrovia. Sam's Deli for their delicious Gyros - not the most attractive restaurant, and not the best service, but man, I love their Gyros! Soups and Tabbouli are good, too. Vince's Deli in Pasadena - great tuna salad.

                                                        -----
                                                        Sam's Deli
                                                        608 S Myrtle Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016

                                                        1. re: WildSwede

                                                          The chicken flautas at Sabrosos are great! The chicken is never dry and it is mixed with a little bit green chili for flavor. They are fried very well and not greasy. It is one of my go-to meals when I am out and running errands on a
                                                          Saturday.

                                                          Their chips are very meh, though. I wish they were better and worthy of their salsas. They taste like bagged chips that are just slightly warmed. If they had better better chips, I would be there a lot more often.

                                                          1. re: Jelly71

                                                            I used to go there a lot in the 80s. I think the salsas were actually better then. I love their bean and cheese burritos since they put the ranchera sauce into it. I will need to try the flautas, now. Whenever I am in the valley and don't go to Cupid's (not often!) I will stop in and have a b&c burrito there That and Las Fuentes's Burrito de Bistec Encebollado are my two favorite burritos.

                                                            -----
                                                            Las Fuentes
                                                            18415 Vanowen St, Los Angeles, CA 91335

                                                            1. re: WildSwede

                                                              Damn bean and cheese burritos w the ranchero sauce inside. I'm so down. What was it called again? And where else serves a stupendous version of this?

                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                Nowhere that I have found. I have been looking, believe me. Sabroso's on Vanowen just west of Corbin - not Reseda, Canoga Park. I smother it with a mixture of their hot and mild salsa. So delicious! On Sundays, I believe they have a taco cart out front where you can get all types of tacos. After that, go a few more blocks west and have a great Cupid's chili dog and get fries from Daglas and dip them into the chili. ;-) A perfect day!

                                        2. re: Bradbury

                                          For some reason, it seems *impossible* to get people to go to the Valley, especially anything west of the 405. A few of the places I've pushed in Times articles have been Valley places - amazing places - and nobody goes. Cafe Bolivar, where the lady *handmakes arepas from corn masa she grinds herself every morning*. You'd think Chowhounds would be all over that, right? Nada. Not a blip. One of my favorite restaurants ever - Priyani Cafe - a Sri Lankan wonder of grandma love-cooking, perfect roti and then perfect roti noodles stir-fried and perfect, perfect goat biryani - closed, after less than a year, for lack of business. Sorrow, sorrow, bang head against wall in sorrow.

                                          -----
                                          Cafe Bolivar
                                          1741 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                          Sri Lankan Cafe
                                          18845 Sherman Way #D, Reseda, CA 91335

                                          1. re: Thi N.

                                            Thi, I think you've made an encouraging argument for those Chowhounds who feel disenfranchised by a lack of response to their posts. The truth is, even the "LA Chowhound cognoscenti" (as it were) often feel as if they're yelling into the wind. Thanks for bringing these to our attention- let's work to get Bolivar Restaurante and Priyani Cafe onto the frontal lobe of our collective Chowhound-consciousness.

                                            Mr Taster

                                            -----
                                            Bolivar Restaurante
                                            20454 Nordhoff St, Chatsworth, CA 91311

                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                              It's too late for Priyani... and for Wadiya, the only Sri Lankan place in Orange County. Which is a damn shame, because Sri Lankan is the first cuisine since I discovered Vietnamese to make my taste buds sing so loudly.

                                              -----
                                              Sri Lankan Cafe
                                              18845 Sherman Way #D, Reseda, CA 91335

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                Oh no, looks like we rank-and-file Chowhounds failed Priyani Cafe.

                                                http://www.yelp.com/biz/priyani-orien...

                                                And that's even after adoring, loving, gushing reviews not just by Thi, but Das Ubergeek and Streetgourmet LA.

                                                This is precisely why I felt the need to start this thread. All too often we get settled into our culinary comfort zones. It's so important to branch out and experience new places, though it's admittedly difficult in a city as geographically sprawling as LA, with so much good food across so many areas.

                                                I'm mourning Priyani's loss, and yet I never even experienced it.

                                                Mr Taster

                                              2. re: Thi N.

                                                Is el bolivar cafe foe the arepas in chatseorth still open ???

                                            2. What about San Carlo deli in Chatsworth? They bake their own bread which they top with all manner of Italian (and not so Italian) specialties. You can't walk in without them offering you some sort of lagniappe. It's the kind of place where the old regulars show up for lunch at 11 and stick around for two or three hours just soaking up the atmosphere of imported pastas and cheeses.

                                              Great east coast style cold cut combo sandwiches along with meatballs, sausage and fresh baked focaccia and pizzas. I used to work in the area and haven't been back in a while. Mouth is watering just thinking about it. Looks like I'll be heading west on the Ronald Reagan within the next coupla days.

                                              -----
                                              San Carlo Italian Deli
                                              10178 Mason Ave, Chatsworth, CA 91311

                                              19 Replies
                                              1. re: JeMange

                                                woodlands in chatsworth for indian food also has been mentioned before, but imho it deserves recognition here again.

                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                  +1. Was only there once, but found it very tasty (and in a really unexpected location).

                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    Woodlands is certainly worth talking about, and it has been :) But, thanks for the reminder, Westsidegal.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                  2. re: JeMange

                                                    I come from New Jersey, where Italian American culture and food is everywhere. As far as I'm concerned, Italian delis in Los Angeles are few and far between, and I welcome any new additions to the regular cast of characters (Bay Cities, Monte Carlo in Burbank, Claro's in SGV, Sorrento in Culver City, and Mario's in Glendale-- I've just recently discovered Roma in Pasadena). Speaking of Italian American culture, I'd consider San Pedro rather under represented, aside from the regular rotation of La Espanola, and Busy Bee. There's another sandwich shop or two that I know I'm missing. But I'd love to hear more suggestions from San Pedro in general.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                      I've never been there, but Cavaretta's Italian Groceries in Canoga Park, is a long time, well known Italian deli.

                                                      -----
                                                      Cavaretta's Italian Groceries
                                                      22045 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303

                                                      1. re: reality check

                                                        My mom would kick a small child if it got in between her and their meatball sandwich. The bread is no great shakes, just an average roll. But their meatballs are amazing. Big, well spiced and just moist enough.

                                                        And when you walk in there, the smell that hits you is delightful. It is absolutely the smell of an Italian kitchen.

                                                        1. re: Jelly71

                                                          Italian meatballs run the gamut of chewy ping pong balls to mushy, gritty things that barely hold their shape together. How would you describe the meatballs as Cavaretta's?

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                            Another city that is under the CH radar is Covina.

                                                            Capri Deli & Kitchen has great sandwiches, especially the meatball. The bread is awesome, it can handle the sauce and meatballs and not fall apart.

                                                            I prefer Capri for their Italian cold cut sandwiches, over Claro's, I've never had a meatball sandwich at Claro's. Both are within a couple miles of each other in Covina.

                                                            -----
                                                            Capri Deli & Kitchen
                                                            713 E San Bernardino Rd, Covina, CA 91723

                                                            1. re: reality check

                                                              Virtually the whole of the Inland Empire is a Chowhound void with a few exceptions... Dr. Bob's in Upland, Donut Man in Glendora, San Biagio's NY Style Pizza, the Cal Poly Farm Store. Can't think of too much else off the top of my head... so recs from this region are definitely welcome.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              -----
                                                              Donut Man
                                                              915 E Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                Covina is in the eastern most of the San Gabriel Valley. It is not the IE.

                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                  Hopefully you have seen this thread on Pomona's taquerias:
                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725679
                                                                  No doubt there are other unheralded gems along Holt and Mission Blvd.

                                                                  Back in my hood (South Bay) I really need to follow up on the new Afghan resto by ECC. First try showed promise ...

                                                                  1. re: DiveFan

                                                                    Nope-- missed it. Thank you for bringing this back to our attention

                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                      Cassie's Soul Food has recently opened in Pomona. Hope we get a report, soon.

                                                              2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                It has been awhile since I have had one, since my mom snatches it out of my hands as soon as I walk thru the door, but if memory serves... the meat tastes like a very well mixed combo of beef and maybe sausage, based on the fennel taste that comes thru. The meatballs are huge, but not at all dry. The ball is uniformly moist and tasty. Mom loves a meatball sub and this is her all time fave, for whatever that is worth.

                                                                I usually get myself the cappicola sub, because, omg, spiced pork. Everything I have gotten there has been A+. The lasagna is a touch watery if you get it to go, but I can drain it easily enough and enjoy it reheated at home.

                                                          2. re: Mr Taster

                                                            Taster, I'm from NJ as well and have found all the hype around Bay Cities to be somewhat confusing. Am I missing something? The vaunted Godmother tastes like every other mixed cold cut sub I had access to as a kid. Of the LA area delis I've tried, I really have to say that San Carlo was my favorite, primarily due to their bread, which they make on site. You've also got a choice of "soft" or "crispy" loaves, which is nice.

                                                            1. re: JeMange

                                                              Yeah, it is a little confusing. Don't get me wrong-- I do like the godmother sandwich, and I like their crispy, blister skinned bread. But is it worth dealing with the absolute mad, chaotic insanity of dealing with Bay Cities on a Saturday afternoon? I'd rather go to All About the Bread on Melrose and eat their copycat bread and sandwich than deal with the Santa Monica craziness.

                                                              In the end, I think it really comes back to the situation I described-- Italian delis are thin on the ground in So Cal, and Bay Cities really is the only game in town.

                                                              As for NJ subs of the Jersey Mike's style, I'm actually quite surprised that Jersey Mike's gets love from non-Jerseyites. To my mind, the meat is ordinary, and the bread is soft an uninteresting. But throw on the oil, vinegar and oregano, and suddenly I'm 10 years old again on the Jersey shore.

                                                              On second thought, the appeal from non-Jerseyites probably comes from decades of being conditioned on Subway as the standard bearer of sub sandwiches. Jersey Mike's clearly comes out as the winner in that contest.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              -----
                                                              Jersey Mike's
                                                              423 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                I think you hit the nail on the head with "throw on oil, vinegar and oregano..." Brings me back to my childhood as well. Reminds me of Blimpie, which, at least in my mind, Jersey Mikes tastes like a clone of.

                                                            2. re: Mr Taster

                                                              A-1 Imported Grocery at 348 W 8th St. in San Pedro is the real deal. I don't know how comprehensive their sandwich menu is, but it is a great place for Italian specialties. It smells like an Italian grocery. They speak Italian, Croatian, Spanish, and, if you insist, English.

                                                              1. re: chpskt

                                                                Yup, A-1 is the other sandwich show I was thinking of that has been discussed on Chowhound. It's rare that I'm down in the LB/SP area but I'll be sure to check it out next time.

                                                                Mr Taster

                                                          3. I think Carson is under the CH radar.

                                                            Three, you buy, they fry, fish markets that are very good are,

                                                            Ann's
                                                            Family Fish Market
                                                            Louisiana Hometown Seafood

                                                            Bodacious Q
                                                            R &R Soul Food
                                                            Venni Mac's M & M Soul Food

                                                            -----
                                                            Bodacious Q
                                                            637 E University Dr, Carson, CA 90746

                                                            Louisiana Hometown Seafood
                                                            17944 Avalon Blvd, Carson, CA 90746

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: reality check

                                                              Carson is absolutely on topic, as it is definitely under represented on Chowhound. Thanks for these recs. I can't think of any fish fry places regularly talked about on CH aside from Willie's at the liquor store in Burbank.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                Willie's isn't like those three listed. Those three are fish markets, that frys up fish.

                                                                While Willie's is more of a "restaurant"

                                                                I'm a fan of England Fish & Chips in Long Beach and New England Fish & Chips in Alhambra.

                                                                Also in Alhambra, 38 Degree serves up a good burger.

                                                                1. re: reality check

                                                                  Yeah, that's sort of my point... Willie's is as close to anything you're describing as I can get. Aside from the Chinese supermarkets that will prepare and fry up your selection for you, but again that's in the well-represented territory of the SGV.

                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                  1. re: reality check

                                                                    wow, this has to be the first and only time willie's will be referred to as (yes, in quotation marks) a restaurant.

                                                                2. re: reality check

                                                                  What do you recommend at R&R? It's popped up on my radar a couple of times but we haven't gotten around to going there.

                                                                3. Rancho Cucamonga--Sycamore Inn (steakhouse); Upland--Juan Polo; Victorville--Johnny Rebs (Breakfast); Montclair--Andy's (pastrami burritos); South Central Los Angeles--Harold & Belle's (Creole), Barbeque King, Jim Dandy (fried chicken), Ramona's--Red or Green Chili burritos; Culver City--La Louisanne, Santa Maria's (BBQ); Cerritos--Sam Woo; Naples--Sushi of Naples. That's all I can think of at this moment.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Barbeque King
                                                                  5309 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90037

                                                                  1. Since streetgourmetla has finally published the results of the Taco Task Fork carnitas run, I ust give him credit for one of the happiest things I've eaten in the last six months, off (WAY off) the Chowhound map, on the border of the South Park and Florence neighbourhoods of South L.A.

                                                                    Tacos Los Güichos ("gwee-chos"). On weekends they set up a tent next to their taco trailer in the parking lot of a car alarm installation place on the southwest corner of Slauson and Avalon. They put a big, huge, metal cazo and put some fire underneath it, then very slowly heat up more lard than you'd think was possible.

                                                                    And then, dear Mr Taster, they start slow-frying pork. Carnitas. REAL carnitas. Not the dry, stringy, pre-boiled crap they serve in Mexican restaurants from San Clemente to Santa Clarita. All the parts of the pig, lips and cheeks and innards and uterus and EVERYTHING. Soft and crunchy, and all just perfect.

                                                                    And then they slap it into tortillas and you dress it up with whatever you want, and it's under two bucks per glorious, fatty, heart-stopping, porcine taco. When you're done, they've got fruit salads in a fridge for you to buy for a few bucks, so you can create the illusion that you've had a balanced meal. But really, what you want for dessert is more Mexican pork confit.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                      What can I say to that.... you do have a way with words, Das. Thank you for this contribution.

                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                        Is this one of those places you have to get there early and they're out by late morning or noon?

                                                                        Mmmmm, a whole vat of lard. I may go into a Homer type foodgasm.

                                                                        1. re: Jase

                                                                          The last time I went was at 1 pm and they were still going strong, but I don't know what time they stop.

                                                                      2. Halal Gyro Pizza House, 18112 Parthenia in Northridge.

                                                                        Forget the gyros. Forget the pizza. Order the Afghani food that's not on the menu. You'll see it on almost every table... leek stuffed bread, but best of all, Mantu... pasta skins stuffed with ground beef, covered in yogurt and tomato. Worth the drive!

                                                                        Good game, Mr T.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Sandra W

                                                                          Wow, Sandra-- pizza/gyro shop with a secret Afghani menu absolutely qualifies, by any measure.

                                                                          This one's shooting to the top of my "must try" list.

                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                            Mine, too! ;-) Thanks, Sandra.

                                                                          2. re: Sandra W

                                                                            wow, now if the gyros are great too, i'm so down. the combination of the three sounds very strange which is usually a very good sign.

                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                              In the same mini-mall is Red Chili. My Pakistani friend says it is authentic Pakistani food. I haven't tried it yet. I've eaten in the Indian sweet/snack/grocery shop. They have a decent steam table in the back.

                                                                          3. Santa Fe Imports in Long Beach for East Coast style Italian Subs (Fresh Roast Pork!)

                                                                            Fa Sai Thai In Anaheim

                                                                            Carnitas El Rey In Orange

                                                                            Asian Deli (Indonesian) in Diamond Bar

                                                                            (Ignore the stupid, incorrect automatic links below. Good, I hate those!)

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Santa Fe Cafe
                                                                            353 N Pass Ave Ste B, Burbank, CA 91505

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: ChefRoux

                                                                              ChefRoux, the Fresh Roast Pork Sub at Santa Fe Imports sound good. Is the Roasr Pork Sub served with Garlicy Broccoli Rabe -- like the way Tony Luke's in Philly serves them?

                                                                              Picture of a Roast Pork Sub with Broccoli Rabe

                                                                              http://www.seriouseats.com/images/200...

                                                                            2. Rose City Pizza in Rosemead was mentioned on CH but that thread may have been deleted because the OP may have been the owner.

                                                                              But, I went there a couple weeks after hearing about it on CH. A very good NY style pizza. It's not Village Pizzeria or Vito's but a solid pizza.

                                                                              Rosemead for pizza is under the CH radar.

                                                                              1. This may not count but Tacos San Pedro in Buena Park serves up fantastic Mexican food. Carne asada flautas, tacos, burritos, and a really really good menudo on the weekends.

                                                                                1. I think TonyC's find is certainly worth adding to this list

                                                                                  http://sinosoul.com/2013/02/downey-rj...

                                                                                  R&J Southern Home Cooking in Downey

                                                                                  Mr Taster